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Redeveloping "The Desi House" in Corona


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Desi's house in Corona, CA could be redeveloped into a conference centre known as "The Desi House", according to this article in The Press Enterprise, featuring comments from Desi Jr.:

 

EASTVALE: A rebirth for the Desi Arnaz house

BY SANDRA STOKLEY

STAFF WRITER

 

After “I Love Lucy” went off the air and Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz divorced, Arnaz decamped to Corona in 1960 where he operated a thoroughbred horse breeding ranch.

 

The 45-acre Corona Breeding Farm, near Lincoln Avenue and West Rincon Street, is long gone.

 

But more than 50 years later, the 4,400-square-foot Spanish-style ranch house that Arnaz helped design still exists. If all goes as planned, the structure soon could become a meeting and event venue in Eastvale.

 

Resident Steve Altfillisch, who owns the house, is seeking a permit from the city of Eastvale to hold special events such as weddings and corporate gatherings there. It would be marketed as “The Desi House.”

 

And the Jurupa Community Services District Parks and Recreation Department has expressed an interest in buying the house and turning it into an interpretive center.

 

“It’s a unique house. It’s beautiful and it has history,” Altfillisch said.

 

Altfillisch’s father, Bert, saved the house from the junk heap after the land was sold to make way for a cheese factory.

 

In 1984, Bert Altfillisch was hired to grade the property and demolish the buildings. But it was contrary to his nature to destroy a perfectly good house, his son said recently.

 

“My dad loved to save things,” Steve Altfillisch said. “And he had property close enough to make it happen.”

 

So the house was cut into three sections and hauled across the Santa Ana River to Bert Altfillisch’s 365-acre property in Eastvale where he bred and trained thoroughbred racehorses.

 

The house underwent extensive renovations including new floors and tile work. But the structural integrity of the original house as Arnaz envisioned it remains.

 

The words etched in wood over the front door leave no doubt about the original owner: Bienvenidos a la casa de Don Desiderio Alberto Arnaz y de Acha III (Welcome to the home of Mr. Desiderio Alberto Arnaz and of Acha III).

 

Desi Arnaz Jr., who lives in Boulder City, Nev., with his wife, Amy, said in a telephone interview Wednesday that he has vivid memories of spending time at the Corona ranch with his older sister, Lucie.

 

“My dad actually designed the house. He loved designing,” Desi Arnaz Jr. said.

 

“It had a certain Spanish-like architecture from his childhood in Cuba,” he said. “It was Old World.”

 

Desi Arnaz Jr. said the wall of French doors at the back of the house provided a spectacular view of the Arnaz ranch because the house sat on a hill.

 

“It’s a great house,” he said.

 

The Arnaz children spent weekdays in Los Angeles with their mother. Weekends and holidays were spent at the ranch.

 

Holidays were a time for celebrating, and Desi’s get-togethers would draw some of his Hollywood friends, including Jimmy Durante, Bing Crosby and, of course, William Frawley and Vivian Vance, better known as Lucy and Ricky Ricardo’s landlords, Fred and Ethel Mertz.

 

“I think my mother may have even visited,” Desi Arnaz Jr. said.

 

“I had horses and go karts,” Arnaz Jr. said. “Back then we were the only people out there. It used to be all horses and cattle farms. It was fun.”

 

Arnaz Jr. said horse breeding was more of a hobby than a business for his father, and he thinks the ranch was a way for his father to recapture his youth in Cuba.

 

“He loved animals and he loved nature,” Arnaz said. “One of the great things my father gave to me is an appreciation of nature. He’d look at a sunset and say, ‘God really outdid himself.’”

 

After about 10 years, Arnaz sold the farm and dissolved the horse breeding business. He passed away Dec. 2, 1986.

 

Bert Altfillisch died in 2006.

 

Six years later, financial constraints are forcing his family to sell much of the property. The family is under contract with a developer to build a 146-home subdivision.

 

But the subdivision lines are drawn around the house.

 

“It was my father’s wish to keep it intact. And that’s my wish,” Altfillisch said. “I want to do something special with it.”

 

He is seeking a permit from the city of Eastvale. If he succeeds, Altfillisch said he hopes to renovate the house and property and rent it out for special events such as weddings, meetings or corporate events.

 

And the Jurupa Community Services District Parks and Recreation Department is in early talks with Altfillisch to acquire the house and property around it.

 

Richard “Ric” Welch, director of parks and community affairs, said some possible uses of the house would be as an interpretive center or as a meeting venue.

 

“It’s a neat place,” Welch said.

 

ARTICLE: http://www.pe.com/local-news/riverside-county/corona/corona-headlines-index/20120324-eastvale-a-rebirth-for-the-desi-arnaz-house.ece

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Thanks from me, too, for sharing these lovely photos - Desi lived here with his second wife, I assume - it's my feeling Desi lived LARGE; Lucille was more old-fashioned, like we laid-back NYers...

Definitely, he helped renovate the Roxbury mansion before they moved in and had a hand in designing the Palm Springs home so it's understandable that HIS places were more updated and modernized, Whereas Lucy never wanted to change anything and if she did, it was with replicas of the original furnishings. Her New York apartment being the one thing that looked modern and elegant, thanks to the great work of Paula Stewart, as it even made it into Architectural Digest. This home of Desi's is NOT the one where he had the horrible tree branch accident that entered his body and he later built a hospital as the area did not have one to thank God for being merciful towards him, that was in Baja, right? Which is where the guitar shaped pool was, right? The one in Del Mar looked like one of those Malibu homes, all modern and on the beach but with no land to speak of.

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Definitely, he helped renovate the Roxbury mansion before they moved in and had a hand in designing the Palm Springs home so it's understandable that HIS places were more updated and modernized, Whereas Lucy never wanted to change anything and if she did, it was with replicas of the original furnishings. Her New York apartment being the one thing that looked modern and elegant, thanks to the great work of Paula Stewart, as it even made it into Architectural Digest. This home of Desi's is NOT the one where he had the horrible tree branch accident that entered his body and he later built a hospital as the area did not have one to thank God for being merciful towards him, that was in Baja, right? Which is where the guitar shaped pool was, right? The one in Del Mar looked like one of those Malibu homes, all modern and on the beach but with no land to speak of.

 

Okay, expound on this incident, please. I have NOT RUN INTO even one mention of this happenstance. Thanks if you can lead me toward this story; definitely should be in the chronology. JK

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Okay, expound on this incident, please. I have NOT RUN INTO even one mention of this happenstance. Thanks if you can lead me toward this story; definitely should be in the chronology. JK

Desi was at this small home in Baja, i think, and this happened around the early sixties, after their divorce, which is why it made all the papers and magazines. People kept hoping that if one of them got hurt, it would signal a possible reconciliation of some sort. Desi is on the porch and surrounded by loads of people and this very heavy set man came on to the porch and made it shatter and Desi fell onto a tree and one of the huge branches perforrated his abdomen, he was bleeding so profusely that it was only because he was rich and could call a helicopter to take him to a city hospital far away as that town had none. He was taken care of there and then showed his thanks by building a small hospital in that tiny little town to thank God for his good fortune. This story was in one of the many Lucy/Desi books.

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Desi was at this small home in Baja, i think, and this happened around the early sixties, after their divorce, which is why it made all the papers and magazines. People kept hoping that if one of them got hurt, it would signal a possible reconciliation of some sort. Desi is on the porch and surrounded by loads of people and this very heavy set man came on to the porch and made it shatter and Desi fell onto a tree and one of the huge branches perforrated his abdomen, he was bleeding so profusely that it was only because he was rich and could call a helicopter to take him to a city hospital far away as that town had none. He was taken care of there and then showed his thanks by building a small hospital in that tiny little town to thank God for his good fortune. This story was in one of the many Lucy/Desi books.

 

Yeah, he almost died, right? And Lucy freaked out and rushed to be by his side I think I read too. I'm sure Gary thought that was awesome. lol :lucythrill:

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Yeah, he almost died, right? And Lucy freaked out and rushed to be by his side I think I read too. I'm sure Gary thought that was awesome. lol :lucythrill:

Well, Desi rushed to HER side when she got hurt on the set of Facts of Life and she rushed blanks for his gun when he got in trouble for shooting at those kids on his property and she let him stay in her guest house when he lost Edie to cancer, that's just how much love they had for each other till their dying day.

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Well, Desi rushed to HER side when she got hurt on the set of Facts of Life and she rushed blanks for his gun when he got in trouble for shooting at those kids on his property and she let him stay in her guest house when he lost Edie to cancer, that's just how much love they had for each other till their dying day.

 

Yep I know. That's a love I'll never get to experience. They were truly lucky people even though they couldn't live with each other.

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Yep I know. That's a love I'll never get to experience. They were truly lucky people even though they couldn't live with each other.

Well, yeah, culture clash really, he couldn't stand a woman being more powerful than him and she couldn't live with the trauma of everybody knowing he was cheating on her, was drunk all the time and not practical about money.

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  • 11 months later...
  • 1 year later...

I'd dearly LOVE to see ANY pictures taken there!!!!  I'm sure they are in Lucie's hands.

 

Not much p.r. has come out about Desi's legacy, estate, and belongings.  Love to hear about those, as well. 

 

Does his second wife have children who might inherit from the house?  She passed first; so, suppose Desi gave her children, if there were any, what belonged to her; but, he may have provided for other than his own two.  ANYBODY????

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